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  • INTHEHIGHCOURTOFSOUTHAFRICA(WITWATERSRANDLOCALDIVISION)

    CASENO:2005/25726

    Inthematterbetween:

    BOTHA,DEREK Plaintiff

    and

    BOTHA,THERESAMARY Defendant

    JUDGMENT

    SATCHWELLJ:

    INTRODUCTION

    1. ThisisadivorceactioninwhichbothPlaintiff(Mr.Botha)andDefendant(Mrs. Botha) have claimed dissolution of the marriage. At issue is theinterpretation and application of Section 7(2) of the Divorce Act whichconfersadiscretionuponthecourttomakeamaintenanceorderinfavourofonespouseagainsttheother.

    2. Two opposing approaches have been argued: on the one hand thatmaintenanceisautomaticallytobepaidtoapoorerspousebyreasonsolelyofthe prior existence of the marriage and financial inequality between theparties; ontheotherhandthat maintenance isadiscretionaryawardinrespect ofwhichthecourt mustfirst ascertainwhetherornotmaintenanceshouldbegrantedbeforeenquiringintothequantumanddurationthereof.

    3. Thisjudgmentconfirmsthat,takingintoaccountsocalledcleanbreakandConstitutional principles, there is no automatic right to maintenance afterdivorce. Entitlement to maintenance must first be shownbefore a courtdetermines the quantum and duration thereof. In the present case theindependentlivesestablishedbythepartiesintomiddleage;thedurationofthemarriage; theemploymentoftheclaimantpriorto,duringandafterthemarriage;theclaimantsresponsibilitiesforanadultdaughtercombinedwith

    1

  • theirrefusaltoseekanyassistancefromthecoparentofthatdaughter;theabsence of supporting evidence as to the costs of the marital lifestyleestablished andenjoyedbycohabiting parties; theextravagance of thelifestyleestablishedbytheclaimantaftersheandherspousehadseparated;theunreliabilityoftheamountsclaimedtosupportthisindependentlifestyleaswellas the purposeforwhich theywereclaimed; theinclusionoftheclaimantsadultdaughterintheclaimformaintenancefortheremainderofclaimantslifetimeareamongstthefactorstakenintoaccountinassessingtheclaim for maintenance. The purpose of shortterm or rehabilitativemaintenanceisalsoconsidered.

    4. Bothpartieshavetestified.Neitherhasreallyrelieduponconductoftheotherpartywhichisofsuchanabominablenaturethatitdeservesmention.Iamsatisfiedthatthemarriagerelationshipbetweenthemhasirretrievablybrokendownandthatadecreeofdivorceshouldbegranted.

    5. Mrs. Botha has claimed maintenance from her husband. Initially, in hercounterclaim,sheclaimedpaymentofmaintenanceforlifeintheamountofR30 000 per month. In her further particulars for purposes of trial sheabandoned that claim and gave notice that she now pursued a claim forpermanentmaintenanceofR20000permonthpluspaymentofallmedicalexpenses. No formal notice of amendment was ever given nor moved;Finally,on conclusionof trial, herlegalrepresentativesubmittedthatitwould be appropriate for her to receive rehabilitative maintenance in theamountofR20000permonthforaperiodoffiveyears.

    6. By reasonof thesediffering maintenance claims both permanent andoflimited duration it will be necessary for this judgment to consider thedifferentapproachestobetakenandthedifferentconsiderationsapplicabletosuchvariousawards.

    7. IhavebeenaddressedbyMr.BothascounselontheneedforandabsenceofcompliancewiththeRulesofCourt.Firstly,Mrs.Bothaclaimedoneamountaspermanentmaintenanceandthen,withoutformalnoticeoramendmentofhercounterclaim,simplyproceededtotrialinadifferentquantum.Secondly,Mrs.Bothaclaimedonlypermanentmaintenancethefirsttime;rehabilitativemaintenancewasmentionedinargumentattheendofthetrial.ItwasarguedthatMr.BothahadonlytomeetthecaseaspleadedbyMrs.BothaandthathecouldnotbeexpectedtoaddressinhisevidencetheissuesnecessarilyensuingfromarehabilitativemaintenanceclaimofwhichhehadnoknowledgeandinrespectofwhichMrs.Bothahadherselfgivennoevidence.

    8. Ofcoursethesecomplaintshavemerit.IappreciatethatMr.BothashouldnotbeprejudicedbythefailureofMrs.Bothatofileappropriatepleadingsortoleadevidenceonherultimateclaim.Ido,however,believethatacourtshouldbeastutetomakeeveryattempttoensurethattheissuesessentialforajustdecisionareproperlyventilatedandconsideredinmatrimonialmatterswhichinvolve highly personal, emotional and intimate issues. Pleadings can be

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  • amendedatthelateststagewhereprejudicecanbeavoided.

    9. I donot consider the absenceof the usual catchall prayer for further oralternativerelieftobeafatalbartoMrs.Bothaatleastnowseekingthereliefshenowclaims.

    FACTUALBACKGROUND

    10. Mrs.Bothawas39yearsofageandmotherofathirteenyearoldchildwhenshe married the plaintiff on 18 December 1999. She held a Certificate inIndustrialRelationsfromRandAfrikaansUniversityandwasthenemployedat SouthAfricanFederated Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC)where, shetestified,shewasearningintheregionofR7000toR8000permonth.Mrs.Botha and her daughter lived in rented accommodation in BezuidenhoutValley.

    11. Mrs.Bothahasalwaysbeenandremainsthesolesupportofherdaughter,havingchosentohavenothingtodowithandhaving soughtnoassistancefrom the father of her child for her daughters support. She testified thatneithershenorherdaughterwishedtohaveanycontactwithherdaughtersfather.

    12. Mr.Bothawas50yearsofageandthefatherofasonlivingintheUnitedStates ofAmericawhenhemarriedthedefendant. Hewasqualified asanengineerandemployedasabusinessdeveloperwithAfricanProducers(Pty)Ltd.,adivisionoftheTongaatHulettGroupatthetimeofthemarriagewhereheremainsemployedtoday.HelivedinhisownhomeinRiverClubwherehestillresides.

    13. Themarriageisoutofcommunityofproperty. ThepartiesenteredintoanAnte Nuptial Contract on 16 December 1999 which provided for thepatrimonialconsequencesofthemarriagetobeoutofcommunityofpropertyandofprofitandlossandwiththeexclusionoftheaccrualsystem.Specificprovisionwasmade therein1 for transferof thesumofR20000fromMr.Botha to Mrs. Botha upon divorce, Mrs. Botha testifying that this wasintendedtocompensateherforlossoffurniturewhichshedisposedofatthetimeshemarriedMr.Bothaandsheandherdaughtermovedintohishouse.

    14. OnthemarriagebothMrs.BothaandherdaughterintoMr.Bothashouse.

    15. AccordingtoMrs.Botha,Mr.Bothapaidforthehouseexpenses,householdmaintenance, most of the household groceries, and medical expenses. Mr.Bothasdocumentationonexpenditureconfirmshisfinancialresponsibilityfor

    1Clause7

    3

  • houseexpensessuchasrates,electricity,waterandservices,television,staffsalaries,holidays,telephonecostsandsoon.

    16. Mrs.Bothastestimonywasthatherstandardoflivingimprovedbyreasonofand during the marriage. Theymoved fromrented accommodation to Mr.Bothas own property which had four bedrooms, a swimming pool andsecurity.Herdaughter,ofwhomsheisthesolesupport,hadthebenefitofMr.Bothasaccommodation.Mr.Bothapaidbothherandherdaughtersmedicalexpenses.Shewasobviouslyrelievedofmuchoftheburdenofthecostsofprovidingforherselfandherdaughter.Furthermore,Mr.Bothapaidforallholidayswhichweremainlycamping.

    17. Mrs.Bothacontinuedinheremploymentafterthemarriage.

    18. However,onanunknowndateduringthemarriage(about2002/2003)Mrs.BotharesignedheremploymentwithSAFCEC.HerdecisionwastakenwiththeknowledgeofMr.Botha.Mr.Bothawasnotchallengedonhisevidencethat he thought that her reasonfor resignation was that shewasnot thathappyandthattheseverancepackageshereceivedwasattractive.

    19. Mrs.BothawaspaidoutjustoverR300000inretirement/severancebenefits.ShetestifiedthatshefirstreceivedthesumofR90000incashwhichsheexpendedonherownandherdaughtersneeds.Atthesametimethesumofapproximately R140000was invested withInvestec where it still remainsinvested.InMarchof2008Mrs.Bothareceived finalpaymentofR76000whichshehasused,inpart,topurchaseamotorvehicleforherdaughter.

    20. After some eighteen months not working, Mrs. Botha again soughtemployment. She commenced working with the employers organisationSEIFSAasanassociationadministratorwhereshecontinuestoworktothisday. She earns a basic gross salary of R16380per month (including carallowance)whichresultsinanettsalaryofR11873.52plusoneguaranteedbonus of a months salary payable in December of each year plus adiscretionarybonuspayableinaboutOctobereachyear.2Althoughnodetailsweregivenofherresponsibilities,Mrs.Bothatestifiedthatsheworkscloselyandfrequentlywiththepublic,requiringspecificclothingforthispurposeandavehicleappropriatelymaintainedandpresented.

    21. Mrs.Bothaispresentlyregisteredforamanagementdevelopmentprogrammethrough UNISAwhich she described as one year belowan MBA. Thiscourseispaidforbyheremployers.Shedoesnotexpectthatitwillleadtoanyopportunitieswithherpresentemployersneitherpromotionnorsalaryincreases. Shehaveanyexpectationsthatdoorswillopen inanyofthefieldsofherstudysinceherexperienceisinthefieldofIndustrialRelations.

    22. DuringthemarriageMrs.BothareceivedsomeR20000toR30000fromthe

    2ThediscretionarybonuspaidtoMrs.BothainOctober2007wasR20473.85gross.

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  • deceasedestate ofher motherwhichsheexpendedonmiscellaneousitemsincluding a cellphonefor herself andMr. Bothaas well as her daughtersschoolfees.

    23. After a few years of marriage the relationship deteriorated. The partiesremainedlivinginthesamehousebutsharingneitherabednoracommonlife. Therewascounselling. InOctober2005Mr.Bothaissuedasummonsseekingadivorce.

    24. DefendantandherdaughtermovedoutofplaintiffshomeinJune2006.

    25. On30thMay2006Mrs.BothawasgrantedaninterimorderintermsofRule43grantinghermaintenanceinanamountofR15000permonthpluspaymentofhermedicalexpenses.Thatordercontinuestothisday.

    APPROACH

    26. Mr.vanHuyssteen,appearingforMrs.Botha,arguedthatthereciprocaldutyof support owed by spouses to each other survives the marriage andaccordinglythatMrs.Bothaisentitledtomaintenanceasofrightbyreasonofhermarriaget

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